Anti-smoking legislation

Government introduces new anti-smoking Bill

The government’s landmark Tobacco and Vapes Bill is set to be introduced in parliament today, bringing the vision of a smokefree generation one step closer.

Smoking is said to cost the NHS and wider economy around £17bn every year, and is the UK’s biggest preventable killer. Someone is admitted to hospital with a smoking-related condition every minute in England.

The legislation would see every child turning 15 this year and younger be banned from buying tobacco products indefinitely. The prime minister, Rishi Sunak, announced the legislation at last year’s Conservative Party conference.

Adding onto the powers that local authorities have to issue £2,500 fines, the Bill gives enforcement officers the ability to hand out £100 ‘on the spot’ penalties for those who sell tobacco to underage people.

Rishi said: “If we want to build a better future for our children we need to tackle the single biggest entirely preventable cause of ill-health, disability and death: smoking.”

He added that the move will save thousands of lives and billions of NHS pounds that can be better spent improving patient care.

Victoria Atkins comment

“This legislation positions the UK as a world leader in tackling smoking,” said Dr Ian Walker, policy director at Cancer Research UK. “Raising the age of sale of tobacco products has strong public backing and is the boldest prevention measure in years.”

Ian along with leaders from across the sector, including the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health’s Dr Camilla Kingdon, have urged MPs to vote in favour of the Bill.

“If passed this will be a major public health measure which [will] reduce illness, disability, and premature deaths for children today and future generations,” explained Dr Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer.

A clamp down on underage vaping comes in conjunction with the anti-smoking elements of the Bill. Flavours and packaging that are marketed toward children will be outlawed, and vape products will be moved out of the sight of children in shops.

This will be further supported by a ban on the supply and sale of disposable vapes via separate environmental legislation this time next year.

Image credit: iStock

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